10 Articles About Anti-Doping to Read While You Watch the Rio Opening Ceremony

With the opening ceremony of the Rio 2016 Olympics mere hours away, few are more excited than we are for this incredible celebration of sport to kick off after a long four-year wait. Yet there have also been months of scrutiny on the so-called performance enhancing (and banned) substances that seem to plague modern sports. So, as you sit down to enjoy the flashing lights and colours that the opening ceremony will no doubt display, explore ten articles that put their own spotlight on anti-doping.

(Watch this space for even more incredible Olympic-related content to follow)


Doping: One man’s fight against the drug cheats (CNN)

“In the midst of an ‘unprecedented attack on the integrity of sport,’ this isn’t an easy time for the men in white coats in their ongoing fight to beat the doping cheats.

Britain’s leading drugs scientist Professor David Cowan has witnessed the evolution of doping first-hand, but with the latest news that Russia concealed positive drug tests of hundreds of athletes at the Sochi Winter Games, just what can one man do in the face of a state-sponsored doping program?

From co-founding the UK’s only WADA-accredited laboratory in 1978 to overseeing the testing at London 2012, Cowan has always remained undeterred. The professor has dedicated his working life to maintaining the integrity of Olympic sport — and, with the Rio Olympics on the horizon, shows no sign of letting the dopers getting the better of him.” Continue reading…


Athletes at Rio Olympics face advanced anti-doping technology (Chemical and Engineering News)

“Athletes currently attending the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro may eventually face a new kind of doping test: one that checks whether they have received performance-enhancing gene therapy. According to the International Olympic Committee’s medical and scientific director, Richard Budgett, samples collected in Rio will be tested for gene doping at some point after the games, even though the test won’t be run during the Olympics itself.

Officials want to know whether athletes have been given synthetic DNA that codes for erythropoietin (EPO), a hormone that increases red blood cell production and, consequently, athletic performance, said Carl Johan Sundberg, an exercise physiologist at Karolinska Institute and member of the World Anti-Doping Agency’s gene doping panel. Sundberg explained the technique that Olympic officials plan to use to test for gene doping at the EuroScience Open Forum (ESOF) conference, held July 23–27 in Manchester, England.” Continue reading…


The drugs won the case for ending the sports war on doping (Vice)

“Doug Logan had seen enough. For years, he had served on the front line of the sports war on performance-enhancing drugs, first as the commissioner of Major League Soccer, and later as the chief executive officer of USA Track and Field. For years, he believed in the fight.

Logan was a professional mentee of Peter Ueberroth—the man who organized the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and helped fund the country’s first anti-doping laboratory—and a lifelong runner himself. Two days after he took the top job at USATF, in the summer of 2008, news broke that former Olympian Marion Jones had asked President George W. Bush to commute her prison sentence for lying to federal investigators about her PED use. Logan responded with a harsh open letter to the White House, calling Jones a liar, a cheat, and a fraud. In 2010, when sprinter LaShawn Merritt blamed a failed doping test on his use of a sexual enhancement supplement purchased at a 7-11 store—an explanation an arbitrator later found credible—Logan nevertheless blasted him publicly, stating he was “disgusted” and that Merritt had brought “shame” to himself and his teammates.” Continue reading…


Have We Reached the Athletic Limits of the Human Body? (Scientific American)

“At this month’s summer’s Olympic Games in Rio, the world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt—a six-foot-five Jamaican with six gold medals and the sinewy stride of a gazelle—will try to beat his own world record of 9.58 seconds in the 100-meter dash.

If he does, some scientists believe he may close the record books for good.

Whereas myriad training techniques and technologies continue to push the boundaries of athletics, and although strength, speed and other physical traits have steadily improved since humans began cataloguing such things, the slowing pace at which sporting records are now broken has researchers speculating that perhaps we’re approaching our collective physiological limit—that athletic achievement is hitting a biological brick wall.” Continue reading…


Brazilian Anti-Doping Lab is Reinstated for 2016 Olympics (The Rio Times)

“The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) announced on Wednesday, July 20th, that, it was lifting the accreditation suspension of the Brazilian Doping Control Laboratory (LBCD), in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. This reinstatement now allows the Rio lab to conduct anti-doping analysis of athletes’ urine and blood samples during the 2016 Olympics and Paralympics.

Brazil, Rio de Janeiro,One of the anti-doping kits to be used in athletes during the 2016 Olympics in Rio,
One of the anti-doping kits to be used in athletes during the 2016 Olympics in Rio, photo courtesy of Ministry of Sports.” Continue reading…


Can anti-doping bodies maintain their scientific integrity? The answer is troubling (The Guardian)

“The allegations of systematic, state-sponsored doping by Russian athletes have rocked the sports world on the eve of the 2016 Rio Olympics. At the core of the allegations are alleged efforts by Russian government and sports officials to subvert the science of drug testing in order to enable doped athletes to appear clean and then win medals.

Recent weeks have seen a focus on what to do about the eligibility of Russian athletes for the upcoming Rio Olympic Games. Few think that the International Olympic Committee and other organizations have handled this crisis particularly well. But the problems facing governing bodies in sport go much, much deeper. Beyond the headlines, one important challenge facing anti-doping organizations is scientific integrity in sports, a subject that until now has received little attention.” Continue reading…


What banned drugs do cheating athletes take? (The Washington Post)

“Hundreds of substances are named on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s list of banned drugs, and thousands more are prohibited through phrases such as “and related substances.” That way, the rules cover drugs that may not have been detected or even invented yet.

Most, but not all, fall into these broad categories:” Continue reading…


A less glamorous side of Olympic life: Peeing in a cup under watchful eyes (The Washington Post)

“Emily Infeld disappeared into a tent. She had placed second in the 10,000-meter race at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials, earning a spot on the U.S. Olympic team. Her adrenaline was still rushing, but she knew that wasn’t what was needed at that particular moment.

She had been met by a young man in a blue shirt shortly after she crossed the finish line. He introduced himself and asked her to sign a piece of paper acknowledging that they had met. Then he followed her around the track, toward the television cameras, past the reporters, into the awards ceremony and a news conference. He couldn’t take his eyes off her the entire time, finally escorting her into the tent, through a pair of double doors, one of which had a sign identifying it as a restricted area.” Continue reading…


Rio Olympics’ Top Anti-Doping Scientist: Cheats ‘Will Probably Be Caught’ (NBC News) [VIDEO]

“Brazil’s top anti-doping scientist has a stern yet ambitious warning for any Olympic athlete planning to cheat during this summer’s Games: You probably won’t get away with it.

‘We’ll have the best doping technology, so the clean athletes are assured they will have fair play,’ Professor Francisco Radler de Aquino Neto, head of the Brazilian Doping Control Laboratory, told NBC News during a recent visit to his lab. ‘The ones that will maybe think of cheating the system, they should be aware that they will probably be caught.'” Continue reading…


How Athletes Dope At The Olympics… And Get Away With It. (Inside Science) [VIDEO]

“Most athletes who dope get away with it. It’s estimated that up to a third of the athletes that we’ll watch at the Olympics, will be dopers. And yet less than two percent of athletes were caught last year. So how do you dope and get away with it?

If you’re searching for strength, anabolic steroids will increase it, by up to forty percent. So they’re popular, so popular that they account for two-thirds of doping violations.

These molecules boost testosterone in your system, but then they show up in your blood and your urine. So that’s what the anti-doping agency’s test for. But they can only recognize chemical structures that they’ve seen before, not designer drugs with the same function, but unknown structures.” Continue reading…



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